Small Victories

Anne Lamott (Riverhead Books)

Anne Lamott, author of her seventh book on spirituality, Small Victories, is nothing if not unique. The 60-year-old Northern California grandmother is a nature-loving, earthy-crunchy hiker/skier; she’s also a self-described “narcissist,” politically to the left of Chairman Mao and a member of a predominantly black Baptist church (where she sings “a cappela and out of tune”). A recovering alcoholic who found salvation in Christianity, the rare convert actually follows the words and deeds of Jesus Christ and not the “compassionate conservative Christians” who cut you off on the freeway in their huge SUVs. A hopeful realist who owns up to her flaws, Lamott is also funny and practices spiritual forgiveness and love, even when it hurts.  

In Small Victories this wildly interesting storyteller offers up two dozen essays, “new and selected” (I forgive you for the repeats, Annie. I had forgotten how wonderful they were). These essays speak to our essential desire and need for connection and community, despite profound divides left over from the administration of George W. Bush, for whom she holds a very strong distaste. Her gallows humor allows her to begin essays with sentences like, “Not everything is going to be okay,” and “I woke up full of hate and fear the day of the Peace March in San Francisco.”

A common thread in Lamott’s essays is the possibility of finding serenity, peace and calm even in the face of terminal illness. Indeed, Lamott is a true survivor, the kind of person you’d want with you during a crisis, or perhaps simply to share a laugh with while drinking some hot cocoa. Grade: A+

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